The increasing trend of preventive double mastectomies, further fueled by the high profile actress and admired activist Angelina Jolie, has really sparked a lot of debate about whether this seeming “slash and burn” strategy or preventing breast cancer that has not occurred yet is truly beneficial.
The high financial cost
In addition to the obvious financial loss of missing work for recovery time and the high cost of the surgery itself, one must consider the after effects as well. They will probably either opt for reconstructive surgery to have surgeons reconstruct breasts for them, or they will need to wear special bras indefinitely. Surgery is out of control these days with how high the costs are.
The Operating Room costs, the anesthesia, the hospital stay and all the other hidden fees and costs have propelled most surgeries to astronomical proportions that no normal person could pay outright.
Even if insurance covers it, you’re still stuck with a lot of out of pocket bills after this surgery. It can really be financially draining. And to make matter worse, sometimes you still may also have to go through other treatments like radiation or chemotherapy which are of course also costly.
A study that was recently published showed that the survival rates and prevention rates for women who have had this procedure don’t seem to justify the numbers of the surgeries being performed today to remove both breasts almost in their entirety.
The benefit versus the cost (financial and emotional) don’t seem to have the big bang payoff you’d think they would in other words. While there is a small increase in the prevention and in the survival, it really doesn’t seem to warrant the frequency of these types of radical procedures.
There are no doubt numerous emotional repercussions for women who go through a double mastectomy. Essentially, you are eradicating an entire part of your body that you have identified with as part of yourself and part of your femininity for your entire life. It can be really devastating emotionally, especially for women who are not able to have reconstructive surgery.
There’s no number you can put on this, it’s not something you can ever get back, and that’s really a big deal if it’s not going to pay off in the huge way that some people think it does in the end as far as prevention of breast cancer or prolonging of life if someone already has cancer.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against double mastectomies. I think it’s a very personal choice and we can only do what we feel is best when faced with potentially devastating news about the state of our breast health.
However, it is alarming the rate at which these surgeries are increasing, and it does make one wonder why more holistic measures aren’t being promoted instead of us just going in and removing all the tissue. It’s kind of a throwing the baby out with the bathwater approach that needs much more studying to prove how much worth it has compared with how much value it actually adds to our breast health.